Gun Control

Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence. Our streets have become a battleground where the elderly are beaten for their social security checks, where terrified women are viciously attacked and raped, where teen-age gangsters shoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs, and where innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-by shootings. We cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doing to our society, and we must take actions to stop these horrors. However, the effort by some misguided individuals to eliminate the legal ownership of firearms does not address the real problem at hand, and simply disarms the innocent law-abiding citizens who are most in need of a form of self-defense.

To fully understand the reasons behind the gun control efforts, we must look at the history of our country, and the role firearms have played in it. The second amendment to the Constitution of the United States makes firearm ownership legal in this country. There were good reasons for this freedom, reasons which persist today. Firearms in the new world were used initially for hunting, and occasionally for self-defense. However, when the colonists felt that the burden of British oppression was too much for them to bear, they picked up their personal firearms and went to war. Standing against the British armies, these rebels found themselves opposed by the greatest military force in the world at that time. The 18th century witnessed the height of the British Empire, but the rough band of colonial freedom fighters discovered the power of the Minuteman, the average American gun owner. These Minutemen, so named because they would pick up their personal guns and jump to the defense of their country on a minute's notice, served a major part in winning the American Revolution. The founding fathers of this country understood that an armed populace was instrumental in fighting off oppression, and they made the right to keep and bear arms a constitutionally guaranteed right.

Over the years, some of the reasons for owning firearms have changed. As our country grew into a strong nation, we expanded westward, exploring the wilderness, and building new towns on the frontier. Typically, these new towns were far away from the centers of civilization, and the only law they had was dispensed by townsfolk through the barrel of a gun. Crime existed, but could be minimized when the townspeople fought back against the criminals. Eventually, these organized townspeople developed police forces as their towns grew in size. Fewer people carried their firearms on the street, but the firearms were always there, ready to be used in self-defense.

It was after the Civil War that the first gun-control advocates came into existence. These were southern leaders who were afraid that the newly freed black slaves would assert their newfound political rights, and these leaders wanted to make it easier to oppress the free blacks. This oppression was accomplished by passing laws making it illegal in many places for black people to own firearms. With that effort, they assured themselves that the black population would be subject to their control, and would not have the ability to fight back. At the same time, the people who were most intent on denying black people their basic rights walked around with their firearms, making it impossible to resist their efforts. An unarmed man stands little chance against an armed one, and these armed men saw their plans work completely. It was a full century before the civil rights activists of the 1960s were able to restore the constitutional freedoms that blacks in this country were granted in the 1860s.

Today's gun control activists are a slightly different breed. They claim that gun violence in this country has gotten to a point where something must be done to stop it. They would like to see criminals disarmed, and they want the random violence to stop. I agree with their sentiments. However, they are going about it in the wrong way. While claiming that they want to take guns out of the hands of criminals, they work to pass legislation that would take the guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens instead. For this reason the efforts at gun control do not address the real problem of crime.

The simple definition of a criminal is someone who does not obey the law. The simple definition of